Friday, June 6, 2008
While we were on the road (in Texas somewhere - and I'll be talking about the trip soon), I got an email from Ted Key's son Peter that Ted was gone. Actually, the day before we left for our 3 week car journey to Calif., Peter called to prepare me, saying that Ted was near the end and that he would be going soon. I was shocked. For some reason, when Ted and I started exchanging almost weekly letters about 4 years ago, I thought this was a man who would live forever. He came close to it.
Ted was a wonderful person. I never spoke with him on the phone nor visited him, though we were in the same state for a while (PA). The letters were enough for Ted, and just having him in my life was enough for me. He had a brilliant and sharp mind even in his 90s. He was a warm, positive person who never failed to answer my questions about Gus (my favorite Disney live action film) for which he wrote the story, or Hazel, since I had it in mind to do a book on Shirley Booth, but time commitments finally forced me to hand it over to someone else - the ever-resourceful Jim Manago, who made it into a better book than I could've done.
I asked Ted for all the comments he could muster on the show, and he obliged big time. He even lent me the Hazel "Bible" which was an eye opener because of the depth of character and detail that went into the show without actually Using that detail in discussing the characters' backgrounds. And then I asked Ted to do the foreword to the book, and he did, long before the book was out. (It only came out last month - so Ted didn't get to see it.)
For a few years I was after Ted to let me publish his unpublished autobiography. It took him quite a while to relent, since he was content to let the copy he had pass into a university library's collection. I kept telling him that it deserved to be shared with People, not the few who had access to Special Collections. Finally he agreed, and rewrote. I was still typing it up myself when he left us...
The thing I'll miss most about Ted was the love in his letters. He honestly cared about Mayumi and I and was positive about whatever we wanted, yet in a fatherly way that made me so sad when the letters stopped last Sept. He had a stroke which disabled his mind and body. I miss those letters so much.